By Sharon Arulnesan

In a world where there’s burger joints around nearly every street corner and barbecues for public holidays, October 1 serves as a day to represent and appreciate the joys and benefits of being a vegetarian.

I haven’t been vegetarian my entire life, in fact, only the past three years have seen me take on the challenge of completely cutting out meat from my diet. Initially, the transition from being someone who feasted on roast chicken dinners and frequented fast food restaurants for their burger combos to cold turkeying (no pun intended) all forms of meat seemed like it was impossible to do. Everywhere I went it seemed that I was missing out because of my choice to become vegetarian. Going out to dinner with friends and watching them devour their golden chicken and glistening steak while I had to keep myself satisfied with my garden salad was a painful experience.

I became vegetarian for a multitude of reasons: it promotes a healthier state of life, it’s more affordable, and it protects the environment and animals. All of these reasons seemed to slowly fade away when I was actually faced with the task of demolishing my once-omnivore lifestyle.

My mom, who had already been vegetarian for some time, listened to my complaints constantly. I talked her ear off about how exhausting it was trying to find meat alternatives and implementing strange tofu creations into my diet. She told me to stick it out for a couple more days, and if I really wanted to go back to being a meat eater, I could.

So, I listened to her advice, and even took extra time to do a deep-dive into the Internet to find vegetarian-friendly recipes and restaurants to try out. As time went by, I amazingly felt myself getting more and more accustomed to this lifestyle. I no longer felt myself craving roast chicken dinners or my once-favourite burger combos. Going out to restaurants with friends was not a disheartening experience anymore. I finally felt secure in my new vegetarian lifestyle.

Throughout my journey, I consulted several articles and videos of vegetarians from all around the world detailing their own experiences, and to my surprise we shared similar hardships. I truly believe that the key to overcoming seemingly unfeasible times in life is by understanding that you are never alone in your struggles and that there is always someone, whether as close as home or on the other side of the globe, who can help guide you to success.

Looking back I do not regret, even for a second, becoming vegetarian. The difficulties I faced made me realize that the hardest things to achieve in life are always the most worth it in the end.

My advice to anyone who wants to adopt vegetarianism is to understand that for most it won’t be an easy process, but you should look at this as something exciting to conquer with so many rewarding outcomes. Go at your own pace and know that it’s more than OK to realize that being a vegetarian isn’t right for you.

If being vegetarian has been something you’ve been thinking about, use World Vegetarian Day as a kick-off to give a meatless diet a try.